Things to do in Italy


Our top activities in Italy

Cultured histories

The very fabric of Italy seems woven from a cloth of distinctive history, from ancient Phoenician to Palladio's 16th century villas scattered around the Veneto. Everywhere you strike treasure. In Sicily alone, the Valley of the Temples is a paean to classical Greece, Palermo oozes Arabic style, while Siracusa and Noto are Baroque gems. Island neighbour Sardinia boasts 7,000 sites linked to the mysterious Nuraghe dating back 6,000 years.

Rome draws the crowds with plentiful reminders of 2,000-year-old imperial grandeur. The medieval and Renaissance fabric of Florence is complemented by other Tuscan wonders: Gothic Siena, Renaissance Lucca and San Gimignano’s high medieval towers - rivalled by lovely Alba, Piedmont's 'town of 100 towers'. Add the famous tower in Pisa, from where Galileo dropped things to prove his ideas on gravity. Amid the jagged rose-tinted peaks of the Dolomites, enjoy a unique blend of Austrian and Italian culture and architecture in towns like Bolzano and Merrano.

Moving Targets

Sea and land offer adrenaline playgrounds here. On Sardinia, dive into – or kayak across – the dazzling Gulf of Oresei, or discover a new side to Tuscany orienteering and canyoning. Italy's tapestry of brilliant cycling routes takes in Puglia, Sardinia and Sicily, Liguria, Veneto, Tuscany and Piedmont – plus the gorgeous lakes. Or try a different kind of saddle for horseback jaunts through soft Tuscan hills or Chianti castle country.

Living to eat!

In Italy, people truly live to eat rather than eat to live. But don't think of chewy pizza and over-sauced pasta - proper Italian food is diverse, distinctive and rooted in regionality and seasonality. Just try fresh pesto sauce in its Ligurian birthplace or a pizza in Naples to see the difference. Explore the HQ of the Slow Food movement in Piedmont, sampling its specialities: arborio rice, white truffles, Castelmagno cheese, Barolo wine.

In Umbria, try norcineria (cured pork produce) or warming spelt and barley soups. In Sicily, tuck into Arab-infused delights or striking nose-to-tail street food. Discover new seafood flavours on Sardinia: sea urchin, salty botarga (dried roe) and tart scabecciu fish dishes. Toast it all in atmospheric bars serving tempting nibbles (aperitivi), while sipping superb artisan grappa or a glass of Franciacorta – Italy's fine riposte to champagne.

The roamin' empire

Italy's famous trails include the aptly-named Path of the Gods on the Amalfi Coast, plus idyllic routes linking Liguria's Cinque Terre villages. Add stunning mountain hikes in the Dolomites or roam the wolf territory of the secluded Apennine mountains. Explore Sardinia's wild inland peaks and valleys, unspoilt island hikes on Elba and Capri, plus little-explored national parks like Umbria's Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini and Le Marche's coastal Parco del Conero.
Photo credits: [Valley of Temples: Dennis Jarvis] [Kayaking in Venice: Gord Webster] [Pasta: Michele Ursino] [field: *Cassandra*]
Written by Norman Miller
Amalfi Coast walking vacation, Italy

Amalfi Coast walking vacation, Italy

Walk in lemon groves and hillside villages

From US $1365 8 Days ex flights
Cilento and Amalfi Coast cycling vacation, Italy

Cilento and Amalfi Coast cycling vacation, Italy

Rocky ridges set between small picturesque inlets

From US $1985 8 Days ex flights
Cheese and wine tour in Tuscany

Cheese and wine tour in Tuscany

Immersive cheese & wine tours and intimate cooking workshops

From £650 4 Days ex flights
Italian cooking vacation, small group

Italian cooking vacation, small group

Immersive gastronomy & cooking trips in undiscovered Tuscany

From £1400 7 Days ex flights
Tuscany pasta and risotto making

Tuscany pasta and risotto making

A Tuscan food adventure, learn to make pasta

From £700 4 Days ex flights
Photo credits: [Page banner: Rostislav Glinsky]
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